Saturday, March 31, 2007



Some people still make their own masala's by hand -- here is haldi (tumeric) drying in the sun. After it sits out for a while, it will be smashed up into a very fine power and used in almost every Indian dish!
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Friday, March 30, 2007

resting on the stoop


As the days are getting hotter, more and more people are trying to find little bits of shade to relax. This little lane is pretty shady and breezy as its close to the sea.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

school crossing


Its almost summer break, so the children are getting hyper and excited.. even more reason to pay attention to these cute "school children crossing" signs! The first time I saw this sign was in Kerala, and just recently starting noticing them pop up around my neighborhood. I think its cute how it looks like a boy, but then also looks like he has a purse!
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring has come and gone..


It is getting close to summer here in India. We don't follow the western months of June-Aug as summer, rather April and May are considered summer months. It gets terribly hot and humid and of course its also when all the children are out of school for their break.

We don't really have a spring as such, but the few weeks/month between winter and the hot/muggy time I call spring! And with its passing, we also often say goodbye to many fellow expats who's contracts are ending. Today we say goodbye to Robbie (fellow MDP contributor) and another long termer Mickey who left yesterday. Come and visit us again!
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bhooth Bungalow

This house, as you can tell by the sepia-tone, is haunted.

Actually, a lot of the old mansions in Malabar Hill, the old-money neighborhood just north of the Governor's mansion in Southeast Bombay, have the same feeling. They're falling apart. They're crumbling almost as fast as the family fortunes that built them. They have 5 or 10 families sometimes, entire kin networks of servants and their cousins and their cousins' cousins, squatting in the halls with cooking fires, and often the owners seem too dejected to drive them out.

This one, which belongs to the family Khatau, the aunts and uncles of my friend J. from America, has what was once a gorgeous Grand Staircase and chandelier-adorned lobby which must have seen some pretty good parties in its day. It's now basically condemned. J's uncle, who got cut out of the family business (importing syringes, of all things) by a vindictive grandfather, has lost it and lives in an unlit attic apartment reading year-old newspapers all the time and not speaking to anyone. Very creepy, but awesome-creepy, ya know?

So that's what this is-- a bhooth bungalow. Ghost House.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Long-unused, birdshitcaked police cars parked outside the BMC's police station in the Fort. They are the ubiquitous Ambassadors.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Officer's Green

This is the small green area outside of the Bombay Stock Exchange, Bombay University, and a host of other BMC offices. Seems it's also where police officers take their tea breaks on Saturday afternoons.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Speak English like James Bond

Saw this hilarious poster tacked to a wall on the street in Dadar, while I was walking to dinner at the (admittedly disappointing Pubjabi restaurant Pritam Da Dhaba).

"According to him there are two class first class and no class. We have to develop the first."

Clever chap, that James Bond. Oh wait -- I mean Mr. Rajesh D. Bhujle, language consultant to the Rotary Club.

Friday, March 23, 2007

NCPA towers

Smoggy day in South Bombay, this is the NCPA Towers, as seen from the 31st floor of the Taj-Hilton-Oberoi confusingly-named hotel at Nariman Point. Notice to the right, the end of Marine Drive, a walkway that just meanders into the sea, inexplicably, and is perched on the surreal "tetrapods" made famous by Dr. Narlikar in Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children". A flat in the NCPA tower is reportedly one of the most expensive in all of Mumbai -- about 8 or 9 crore (1-1.5 million US dollars) to buy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hope for Cricket

Woolmer's murdered. India's out of the World Cup. People are defacing posters of Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar has had to post extra body guards outside his house to keep disappointed, angry fans from attacking him. Chappell is probably finished.

Everything went wrong for India (and a few other countries too) in the 2007 Cricket World Cup, and this city, which lives, breathes, eats, sleeps (but, as the Times of India put it, doesn't capably play) cricket, is devastated. But at least there's some hope. This snap is from Oval Maidan, the huge public cricket pitch near Churchgate Station where India's hopeful's train, play, and learn to love the game.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sidewalk Life

My apologies for not posting a happy-go-lucky tourist shot of the city, but a few days back I was walking home from work, along SV Road in Bandra, and I saw these two guys, both map-sellers, free-basing in the middle of the sidewalk. The map sellers try to sell me roll-up maps of India and Mumbai every time they see me come out of my office, despite the fact that I reject them every time and they must recognize me by now. I don't know what drug these guys were using, but one was cooking it up with a lighter on a little metal strip, and the other guy was inhaling the vapors through a straw. In broad daylight. In the middle of the sidewalk.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Traffic Vase

This is the Indian version of Pier-1 imports. Little kids standing at busy intersections, selling fake-gilt vases.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


My neighborhood is under perpetual construction it
seems. But at least these days they are putting up
diversion signs... not that any of the drivers even
notice them!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patricks Day

Happy St. Patricks day.. and in light of the day, here is a touch of green for you! These signs are quite common, but as more and more people buy cars there seems to be a shortage of parking inside and outside of buildings... and the guard is always there to make sure people abide by the rules! Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 16, 2007

Papa Pancho

Delivery once again... Papa pancho is a favorite here in Bandra. Delicious dal makhani and quick delivery. Probably the most efficient way of delivering hot food fast in Bandra is by bicycle or moped. The area isn't too big, but can get so congested that a nearby delivery in a vehicle could take 30 minutes or more. PP, manages to get your food to you within 30 minutes from the time of ordering! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 15, 2007

beanbags by phone?

This is a brillent marketing scheme thats been going on in Mumbai for the last few years (at least). When I first moved here I thought a bean bag would be a great addition to my house and even called to inquire, but they were charging 3,000 rupees (68USD) for one, which I felt was outrageous! There is also an urban legend that says the beanbag ads are a front for a high class escort service, but i cannot get any confirmation on this! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Disappearing quickly are adorable bungalows like this one. You can still find them on the small winding lanes of old neighborhoods. Typically they are named after the person who owned them. Often you will see a strange name, which is usually a mashup of two names (husband & wife typically). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Laughter Heaven

Have you heard of laughing for your health? The best place in Mumbai to observe (or join in) is at Laughter Heaven in Bandra near Joggers Park. Its a small triangular park that is filled with "aunties" and "uncles" in the morning laughing away their cares. Its nice hearing all the ho-ho and ha-ha-ha's, but I'm not sure if just laughter keeps the doctor away, but at least it puts a smile on your face! To learn a bit more, you can start at the wikipedia "Laughter Club" page. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 12, 2007

more from the wall painting

I couldn't stop thinking about this one print that the Dusk Art Gallery had put up for the Women's day celebrations, so I had to go take a photo of it for posterity (unless I can manage to buy it!). To me, this painting really is Mumbai. The taxi driver, traffic, chai and the colours of India. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 11, 2007

sleeping sunday

This homeless man is always in the same place in my neighborhood. He's very nice and has learned that we also live in the neighborhood, so he doesn't ask for money all the time. Its beginning to get hot again, so this is all anyone seems to do from 1-3 pm! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 10, 2007

saturday cleaning

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but the beauty of Mumbai is that you can get everything delivered - even brooms and wash rags! You just have to know the "sound" or words to listen for as they walk down the street yelling about their offerings. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 09, 2007

International Women's Day

Yesterday was International Women's day. It was actually celebrated in a unique way directly in front of my house. A local art gallery invited women from all over the city to "use suburban walls as canvas". the top portion of the photo are prints from other artists that the gallery put up a day before and the bottom only appeared after gangs of women armed with spray paint were let loose! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 08, 2007

the insides of Pali hill

I happened upon this old crashed truck in a neighborhood where you would never expect to find it - the upmarket, home to Bollywood stars and uber elite area of Pali Hill! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

crispies and tikki

Mumbaikers love their street food. The small flat snack on the right is called tikki (like tick-ee), which is quite nice. I have no idea what the little crispy baskets are called, but they are filled with potato, onions, chili's, and anything else you'd like and then covered in dahi (yogurt). To taste the real deal, you just have to visit Mumbai and be willing to try your luck! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


This adorable little boy approached us last night wanting us to buy his garlands. I love these garlands because they smell beautiful. Many Indian women wear them on a regular basis or at the least for special occassions. This is probably the one item that I can consistently buy on the roads for the "correct" price! (or so i think, so don't ruin it for me!) Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 05, 2007

medical centre ad

I ran across this old hand painted ad today on my way home. It's an advert for a nearby clinic. I thought the hand painted drawings were funny. Now days its becoming rarer to see these with technology and billboards taking over. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Holi began bright and early this morning and we went out to join in the fun. Being a foreigner in India during holi means quickly getting covered with a variety of colours. Just walking around our neighborhood we got blasted with water guns, water balloons and of course tons of coloured powder. We ended our morning at this street party which had it all - blaring music, dancing, tons of colour powder and of course plenty of alcohol. Happy Holi! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Small Holi


Today is the beginning of one of my favorite Indian celebrations. I had way too many photos to choose from, but I had to settle on one showing the bonfire!

The day before the full moon day of Holi is called Small Holi. Families (or neighborhoods) light up bonfires and sing and dance around it. The evil spirit, symbolized by dead leaves, twigs and dirt, that collects during the winter months, is thrown up in the fire. Prior to the full flames of the fire, the families walk around the bonfire conducting puja's, giving offerings, sprinkling water and handing out sweets. Tomorrow everyone will get up early and throw powder/paint and drink bhang! Stay tuned.. Posted by Picasa

Bandra Village

This photo is very telling of the feel of the neighborhood I live in, which I've heard called "Bandra Village". It is, roughly speaking, the network of lanes that twist around chaotically behind Waroda Cross Road, which, runs parallel to Hill Road, Bandra's historical aix principal, east-to-west from SV Road and Bandra Station.

The area is almost entirely Catholic, and full of people of Portuguese-Indian fisherfolk descent. At last week's Kitab Festival, a literary event in Mumbai, Naresh Fernandes, editor of Time Out Mumbai, read a personal essay about how in his grandmother's lifetime, all of Bandra went from looking like this--a sort of idyllic, fishers-and-farmers market district, to the "post-industrial hell" that it is now. I quite like it now, but it was still an interesting essay.

This is the fruit seller on Waroda Cross Road, just up from my flat, with one of the (literally) hundreds of crucifixes erected in memory of some local resident. The left side plaque says "Our Lady of Vajlakramani," but the right side (not visible) says "Out Lady of Fatime". Almost everyone in my building is Indian, but has a Portuguese name like "Gonsalves," "Da Silva," or "Rodrigues".

Friday, March 02, 2007


Every day I get one of these bad boys delivered to my office for lunch. Inside, generally, is 4 rotis, about a cup of boiled white rice, a bag of (yellow, usually) dal, which is, on occasion, thick and delicious dal makhani, and some sort of aloo dish (aloo ghobi, aloo mutter, etc), and a random treat which I'm gonna call the "wild card". The wild card is sometimes a small samosa, but sometimes cute -- on Valentines day it was a heart-shaped potato patty.

The word "dabba" just means "can," but the guy who delivers the food is called the "dabbawala," the "Can Man." I heard somewhere that 4,000,000 people in Bombay get dhaba for lunch every day. Most of the women who cook the food in the dabba are Gujarati housewives, who make the lunch, wrap it up, and give it to the first dhaba wala in line, who generally transports it, in bicycle rickshaw, to the train station. Another dabba wala picks it up there, and accompanies the load of dabbas to the destination train station (each dabbawala serves a certain, manageable area of the city). At that station, another dabbawala picks it up and bicycles it to the various offices where it goes.

Keep in mind that most of the people involved in the distribution chain are illiterate and depend on dots, dashes, and other icons for the labels on the dabbas. Customers generally cancel their dabba on a day when they're having a business lunch, or if they're out of town for a few days, and they call the night before. With all these changes, and all the various last-minute adjustments, the dabbawalas achieve "Six-Sigma" accuracy, meaning that their service is provided with a .001% rate of error. Major Indian companies come to them for advice and training on staff management. My own dabba has never disappointed.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mt. Mary's Candles

Outside Mt. Mary's Church near Land's End, Bandra, you'll find stalls selling these candles. They are formed to represent anything, corporeal or inanimate, that one might pray for. Cars, a new house, a baby, a successful relationship, the healing of a leg, stomach, head, arm, or anything else that is ailing. The rows and rows of candles are creepy, but interesting.

I bought one shaped like a brain, and even though it was cool and unnerving to the touch, and I'm not catholic, I offered it up in the church, for my friend Uma, an Indian who, on a recent trip to New York to see her fiance, suffered a brain aneurism. She is currently in a coma in New York and needs to be transferred, at a cost of $20,000 American, to a specialty facility in Los Angeles. If you are interested in contributing to the Uma fund to help pay for her treatment, you can click here.